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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Henry C. Prange

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 639 - 640

Henry C. Prange, a prominent merchant of Sheboygan, dealer in dry goods, carpets, cloaks, etc., established business in October, 1887. He has a fine double store, 50x80 feet, for dry goods, on the first floor and fronting on Eighth Street, corner of Wisconsin. The second floor, 50x110 feet, is used for carpets and cloaks, while on the ground floor, in the rear of the drygoods store, he has an extensive grocery, which is 30x50 feet, fronting on Wisconsin Street. Mr. Prange owns the south part, 20x110 feet, of the building he occupies, which he leases. He employs forty-four people, and is doing a large and increasing business, probably having the most important mercantile house in Sheboygan County.

The subject of this sketch was born in the town of Sheboygan Falls, April 21, 1858, and is a son of William and Eleanor (Ackermann) Prange, of whom see sketch. He was reared on a farm and educated partly in the country, and partly in Sheboygan City schools. On the 14th of August, 1876, he began his business career as a clerk in the general store of John A. Plath & Co., continuing with that house until September, 1880. On the 1st of September, 1880, he accepted a like position with the Chicago firm of W. R. & W. A. Wieboldt, merchants of Sheboygan, remaining with them till they closed out, in December of that year, when he accepted a temporary position with Fred Koehn. On the 9th of August following, he engaged as clerk with H. D. Otten, and remained with that house until June, 1884, when he quit to make a trip to Europe. He left for Europe on the 7th of June, and that year visited Germany and other countries, returning on the 28th of the following May, 1885. After his return he resumed his position in the store of H. D. Otten, and continued to do good service with that house until July 1, 1887, when he resigned, to establish his present business, commencing with three clerks.

Mr. Prange was married in Sheboygan on the 29th of December, 1891, to Miss Augusta Bodenstein, and has one daughter, born August 29, 1893. Mrs. Prange was born in the Chair City, and is a daughter of George and Ernestine (Hoph) Bodenstein, early settlers of her native city. Her father is deceased, but her mother survives and still resides in Sheboygan.

In politics, Mr. Prange is a Republican, but has neither time nor inclination to hold public office. His tastes lead him to mercantile pursuits, for which he is especially adapted, as his phenomenal success in so few years demonstrates. In his childhood years on the farm this propensity for business manifested itself in many ways, especially in the interest he took in his mother's marketing. On her return from town he would always want to know the price for which she had sold the farm products, usually butter and eggs. Being given the quantity and price for which they sold, he found out what they amounted to, and would then figure out the bill of goods which she received in return. When he had finished his schooling, it was the most natural thing in the world that he should seek a position in a store. He became popular as a clerk, attracting to his employer's store many good customers. When he started in business for himself, a large proportion of these Customers gave him their trade, so that he did not start as a stranger in a strange place. His trade increased rapidly from the first and has so continued, until he now commands the largest trade, in his line, in the county. His success has been brilliant, and goes to show what may be accomplished by one having a natural gift for business, and who devotes his whole energy and thought to it. The secret of his success may be summed up in a few words: natural adaptation to his particular line, close application, correct business methods in buying and selling, a thorough study of the nature and quality of goods suited to the wants of his customers, strict integrity, combined with a natural disposition to please and accommodate those who deal with him, and the giving of the best goods possible for the money in every instance. It is the possession of these traits that makes the successful business man.

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